Il nostro campione

Piero Rondolino & family

Acquerello, Livorno Ferraris

inventor and founder of Acquerello, owner of  La Colombara estate, Livorno Ferraris (VC)


An everlasting start-up

I was born in the heart of Turin in 1946 and right here, in the caffès of Turin, the idea of a united Italy was born. A great idea but difficult to realize; even to this day, Italy is not one country, but a set of infinite communities. The difficulties have preserved the differences, which today form the great richness of our country.

I was supposed to become an architect. But once I finished my studies, I decided to become a farmer, more specifically a rice farmer. My father, Cesare, loved the countryside even if his family came from the city. In 1935 he bought “La Colombara”, one of the most fertile rice farms in the Vercelli area, and he transferred his passion for rice onto me.

I never lost my architect’s vocation for planning though, and in 1992 I invented Acquerello, a name that hints at the work I love most: controlling the level of water, which is what sustains the life of the rice, the only crop cultivation done under water. I wanted a rice that was different and a solid lasting project.

I wanted a long-term venture so that the members of my family could branch out in what interested them most. And this is what happened. My wife Maria Nava is in charge of the commercial aspect, my children - Umberto and Anna - see to the marketing, and Rinaldo oversees production.

Acquerello has been in a start-up phase for the past 25 years, as every year I try out something new; not only when it comes to the actual products but all sorts of things that concern the rice or La Colombara estate, cultural events or opening the farm up to the public. People coming to our property are not only ones in search of rice, but also ones looking for culture and history.

Acquerello began with my curiosity and desire to know all there was to know about rice. I like to call this a “study”, but research alone didn’t provide me with an answer. What I wanted was something that could be a starting point for something physically real. And what can be more concrete for a rice farmer than developing a rice that is an expression of the Italian culture, but is different from the others and has an eye on the future?

Naturally, first thing that came to mind was the best Italian variety of rice: the Carnaroli. When I began, it was practically unknown. That by itself wasn’t enough, because others could have followed the same road, and did. To improve the quality I “studied”. The fact that aging enhances the characteristics of rice was not at all new, particularly in Asia, and that was the answer: here at Acquerello we let the rice mature.

In order to make it edible, the whole grain has to be milled to turn it into white rice. So we built a rice mill that transforms the grain better than any other, using both old and modern machinery.

At times, when you like to eat well, unexpected ideas can pop up. What is continuously helping me is the passion for food. It induced me to taste the germ, a particularly flavorful and nutritious by-product. Whole-grain rice, unlike white rice, contains the germ. So we found a way of restoring the germ to white rice by inventing a simple, time-honored, mechanical process, subsequently patented, which uses a rotary huller.

A rice variety was born, not only tasty, but also healthy.

And tomorrow?

It’s against my nature to stop, tomorrow will give us new ideas. I would like to see these values being inherent in a place like ”La Colombara” and what we do become widespread knowledge and opportunities. So let's roll our sleeves up and get stuck in, working for La Colombara of the future.

Written by Pierio Rondolino